On our early morning flight, the attendant offered me a drink, and with every intense ounce of me I asked for coffee. I may have grunted it, because she and the woman on my left bent their bodies in a knee-slapping laugh. I laughed, too, and then had to explain that I am a decade tired in the mother-way. I said, “I have four sons!”
“Oh!” the woman sitting there said, “I have three sons.” And there it was, the look we gave each other, an immediate bond. She is a woman from Joplin, Missouri, a place wiped out in 2011 by an EF5 tornado. I asked her how recovery was going, and she spoke of her dearest friends, how a light has gone out from their eyes. I saw the heartbreak as she wondered if she would ever see the light again.
How interesting it was to see an American woman’s heart after she found herself and her community in the rubble. I was in the air for my first trip to Haiti, a place devastated by a catastrophic earthquake in 2010. I thought how familiar the rubble is to us all in varying degrees. I thought how some of us have looked death straight in the face.
It’s the day after Easter, and I imagine that other mother we know, that mother of boys, our Mary –what she had seen of rubble, how she knew regimes would fall, how she saw her baby boy hang there and drip down. The light siphoned from His eyes. She saw it go out. The weight of every sin, she knew her son. She saw it bear down.
Then I imagine Him revealed to her, Resurrected Savior. Resurrected Son.
When Mary saw her Jesus, imagine what flashes crossed her mind: the day Gabriel came to her; the Son of the Barn; the joy that filled her arms in spite of her homelessness and out-of-wedlock status. Her boy was standing there in the new body, and did she laugh remembering how frustrated she was when he disappeared off to the temple?
Imagine her standing there in the awe of resurrection. Imagine her calling Him the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. He was outside of her, released – God shining out of His eyes, the broken One healed. Imagine the light beaming like the universe answered, every paradox completed in Him.
Because she was Jesus’ mother, she knew Him precious, but did she know destruction would come before the building? Did she recognize the scattering as the only path to the gathering? She may not have prophesied such things of the church, but I believe she knew it for us all in that moment – ash is the birthing place of beauty.
When I was in Drouin, Haiti, I saw the kiss of a mother, and in it was the blessing of a kingdom. When I saw with my eyes this community that had faced such loss, mothers and fathers choosing which child to feed for the day, I saw Mary letting her baby go from her hands.
Two mothers in the community told us of their love, and I knew it by heart before they even spoke it. It’s what any of us feel when we see our child, know the beauty within, and believe completely that our babies are capable of everything good. These mothers spoke of their gratitude that the church was providing education, a huge meal, and jobs so that their families could move in the direction of healing after the loss of their funds for food and wellness when the world brought rice to Haiti. Drouin is a community of rice farmers, and the foreign aid annulled what good they had to offer. They starved and then barely endured cholera. They lost many.
Now I wish you could have seen them, the bright eyes and the lighter hearts of children singing and being fed. The Haitian church there in Drouin saw the babies and in them a future, the most beautiful things they’d ever seen. School isn’t free in Haiti, but the church gives it for free to 125.
She has risen from ashes, and we have this beautiful opportunity to come along side her, the church, as people who aren’t unacquainted with the rubble or the wilderness, as mothers and women, and as this great, global body of Christ. Drouin needs sponsorships to offer schooling to 250 more children, maybe the very ones I saw drinking and bathing along the canal. These sponsorships offer more than uniforms and books.
We get to be a small part of offering hope, the kingdom come. (In)Courage family, I want to see us come along side the Haitian church and Help One Now to grow the school and Drouin’s infrastructure, to offer education and food to 250 more children. This is Orphan Prevention. Come into the rubble with me. Remember it. Ashes everywhere. I have seen the beauty. I held them in my arms.
With the eyes of Mary to the beloved child, least of these, our greatest joy, we do unto Jesus now.
Jamie Rohrbaugh says
Orphan prevention… yes. Thank you for going and serving. I’m not in a place in life right now where I can go, but I have several friends who are, and are going, and I hope to help by sending. And thank you for your word-picture of Mary. I wonder if she had ever heard Jesus talk about “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it abides alone…”? I can’t imagine what she endured. Thank God He is risen.
Yes! Thank God He is risen.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I wait like Mary for beauty to be born from the ashes of my son’s life. Any child who is without God is an orphan. Praying for orphans everywhere including those in Haiti and in Pakistan where I partner with a ministry for orphans – giving them food and shelter and teaching them to read and write and most of all teaching them about the love of Jesus. We don’t realize how many children worldwide are sold into slavery and child labor. Thanks for being a champion for the least of these.
Thank you, Karen.
‘When the world brought rice to Haiti.’ We are broken even at our finest and hopeless without the ‘baby boy hanging.’
Your words always tke me to a sacred place Amber, one that’s real and raw, a stunning place of healing. Thank you!
So tender, powerful, effecting…. Never does your storytelling burst into more beautiful song than when you’re sharing a picture of hope among such great devastation and desolation. You’ve stewarded these stories so well, Amber, and you’re holding my attention to a place and a people who need a response.
Yes, I so hope they get a response.
Thank you for loving me, Robin.
Kelly @ Love Well says
My entire body is covered in goose bumps right now. You words come like the sun, bringing hope and truth and melting what needs to go so the kingdom can come.
At this point I am so tired and jumbled, but I do know I want kingdom to come. Love you, Kelly.
Joanne Peterson says
When you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto Me.
Sarah Markley says
I love this friend. your storytelling is something to behold.
Kristen Strong says
You write and I see more of what I was blind to before.
Thank you, Amber. Pondering all this in my heart.
Sarah S says
Thank you. Finding beauty in the ashes…I love this. I do this. It’s like making old things new. It’s my favorite hobby. It’s what brings life.
If I didn’t think he makes all things new, I wouldn’t be here, you know? Thank you for this, Sarah.
Suzie Lind says
Oh Amber, this is breathtaking… I love how you see Jesus in everything. I love how you tell it to us so we can love him deeper. Keep going friend.
Love you, Suzie.
Chris Malkemes says
Words of the heart told from the heart – thank you.
Jamie S. Harper says
This is gorgeous storytelling!
Kathy Schwanke says
This is glory. Beautifully written Amber.
The passion of love in my mama heart resonates.
Scripture says the glory of man is woman (1 Corinthians 11:7), and I believe the glory of woman is the fire of love in her soul for her offspring. The intense travail of labor endured in love giving birth to life and exultant joy.
It’s what brings us to our knees daily for our children, what gives us the desire and fervor to push past the obstacles of weariness, lack of sleep or resources to keep giving.
This piece expresses the subtle but fierce power of God’s heart in woman.
“the subtle but fierce power of God’s heart in woman.” Oh, Amen to that!
lisha epperson says
You can’t know birth without walking through the ashes of its glorious fire. Your brush with even a few still smoldering embers is the foundation from which new life begins. So much hope here.
Diana Trautwein says
This is absolutely gorgeous, Amber. And those pictures? Those children’s faces? Oh, my. Thank you for all of it. Thank you for going.